The 10 best private art collections in the world

Not all masterpieces of painting are on display in the great museums of the world. Many belong to private collectors, from the great collections of the European nobility to the modern gurus of contemporary art, we have selected what are possibly the 10 best private art collections in the world.

Some private museums that very few have the fortune to admire

We wanted to focus on private collections that are not yet on permanent display in private foundations or galleries, so the list does not include collections such as the Getty Foundation in California or the E. G Buhrle in Zurich , which otherwise way they would be part of this list.

WILDENSTEIN COLLECTION: what is perhaps the best private art collection in the world is still shrouded in mystery. Dealers and collectors, as well as bait for the yellow press, the Wildensteins have amassed an impressive collection over many decades that, although almost no one knows exactly, some sources have valued it at 10 billion dollars (more than 7,000 million euros! !). This “Eldorado of Art” would house works by the best painters from the old masters to the modern ones, with works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Monet, several Rembrandts, several Rubens, Caravaggio, El Greco, Fragonard, one recently cataloged “Madonna and Child with the Seven Virtues” by Giotto di Bondone, and even – according to what was said in a lawsuit over the family estate – a painting by Vermeer not yet known to critics.

STEVE COHEN : Mr. Cohen is one of the biggest “predators” in the art market, and has not hesitated to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get hold of one of the best private art collections in the world. He owns post-impressionist (“Bathers” by Gauguin, and “Portrait of a Peasant Woman” by van Gogh) and modern masterpieces, such as a “Madonna” by Much. But the strong point of his collection are the works of Contemporary Art, which include two wonderful oil paintings by Willem de Kooning (the “Police Gazette” and the “Woman III”, bought from David Geffen for 64.5 and 137.5 million dollars, respectively) , a great Jackson Pollock drip, and Damien Hirst’s most famous and controversial work, “Physical Impossibility Of Death In the Mind Of Someone Living”

 NIARCHOS FAMILY : The heirs of the shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos have a large collection of Impressionist and modern art, especially his son Phillipe Niarchos. Among the works owned by him are three masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh (“Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear”, “Portrait of Pere Tanguy” and “The House of Pere Pilon”), which is possibly Gauguin’s most important work in private hands (“Riders on the Beach”), and the self-portrait “I, Picasso,” purchased in 1989 for nearly $48 million. In recent years Phillipe has increased his collection with works of contemporary art, such as Andy Warhol’s “Shot Red Marilyn” or a self-portrait by Jean Michel Basquiat.

 DUKE OF SUTHERLAND : The Duke of Sutherland owns what is perhaps the best private collection of Old Master works in the world. Despite having sold Titian’s “Venus Anadyomene (Venus Leaving the Water)” to the Scottish National Gallery in 2003, it still has two other masterful Titians, -“Diana and Callisto” and “Diana and Actaeon”- in addition to the wonderful Self-portrait by Rembrandt, painted in 1657, which is possibly the most important work by an Old Master still in private hands; Raphael’s “Madonna Bridgewater” and the entire series of “The Sacraments” by French master Nicolas Poussin

CASA DE ALBA : The impressive collection of the Casa de Alba in the Palacio de Liria, Madrid, now owned by the late Duchess Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba, includes works by Fra Angelico (“La Virgen de la Granada” ), Titian (“The Last Supper”), Velazquez (“La Infanta Margarita”), El Greco, Veronese, Correggio, Rubens, a “Landscape with a fort” by Rembrandt, and several Goyas, highlighting the Portrait of the Duchess of Alba painted in 1795. In recent years the Duchess has added works by modern authors such as Picasso or Chagall

 ELI BROAD : Possibly the best private collection of contemporary art in the world. The Broad Art Foundation has a collection that rivals the best museums in the world of its kind, with nearly 2,000 works by artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichstentein and Edward Ruscha, as well as an important collection of photography.

DAVID GEFFEN : It is possible that the only private collection of contemporary art that could rival that of Eli Broad is in the hands of this businessman from the world of cinema. Geffen owns a good number of works by the best artists of the second half of the 20th century. And all this despite having sold two of his most important pieces (Jackson Pollock’s “Number 5” and Willem de Kooning’s “Woman III”) for a combined price of 277 million dollars, making them the two most expensive paintings never sold.

STEVE WYNN: Wynn has been one of the main players in the Art market in recent years, with his spectacular acquisitions for his personal gallery at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Works owned by Wynn range from Old Master paintings (such as a youthful self-portrait by Rembrandt, a recently discovered portrait by Vermeer, or William Turner’s famous “La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio”) to works by Impressionist and modern painters such as van Gogh, Monet or Picasso. However, in the last two years it seems that Mr. Wynn begins to undo his collection, after selling Steve Cohen (see above) a work by Gauguin and another by van Gogh, in addition to the incident with Picasso’s fabulous canvas “The Dream ยป,

FRANCOIS PINAULT : This French billionaire has collected Art for more than 30 years, and has amassed an extraordinary collection of 2,500 works of modern and contemporary Art. Since 2006 he has exhibited, at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, a selection of 200 works of contemporary art, with works ranging from Mark Rothko or Lucio Fontana to Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst.

CHARLES SAATCHI : We close this list with Charles Saatchi, dealer, patron, collector and guru of contemporary art. Over the past few decades Saatchi has helped some of the biggest names in art today – Damien Hirst is one of them – while creating an impressive collection of Contemporary Art that, while not including as many works by established artists like, for example, that of Eli Broad or David Geffen, if it has some of the key pieces of the new geniuses of contemporary art.

Other important private collections are those of Bernard Arnault (large selection of contemporary art), Alice Walton (American art, highlighting Asher Brown Durand’s sensational “Kindred Spirits”), the very old collection of the Duke of Westminster (including the masterful “Prince Baltasar Carlos on Horseback” by Velazquez) or George Embiricos, who despite having sold several works in recent years still has the highly desired “The Card Players” by Paul Cezanne.